Indian Railways on Thursday launched an awareness campaign along with the National Commission for Protection of Children Rights (NCPCR) to provide assistance to lost, abandoned and trafficked children in the railways network. According to data, around 35,000 children were rescued in the last four years from railway stations or trains who had either left home on their own or were being trafficked and exploited by others. For Delhi alone, 820 trafficked children have been rescued from railway stations from January to May 2018.
A standard operating procedure (SOP) was launched for railways, which will be followed across all stations eventually. This will involve raising awareness of all stakeholders involved, like local vendors, porters and even public transport drivers, to identify such children with ease. In addition, child help desks will also be set up across stations, officials said.
“This campaign has been launched to address the issue of protection of children across the entire railway system and to sensitise all stakeholders including passengers. Currently, the SOP for railways to ensure care and protection of children in contact with railways is successfully implemented at 88 stations. Now, we intend to implement in 174 stations,” said Ashwani Lohani, chairman, Railway Board.
According to the SOP, each railway station is also supposed to have an NGO dedicated to helping such children. Out of the 820 children in the capital, around 650 were rescued at the New Delhi railway station alone, RPF officials said. “NDLS is the biggest railway station and receives the most amount of passenger traffic, which makes it ideal for traffickers. Extra vigilance is deployed there and any child found alone is immediately checked upon,” said a senior RPF official.
Last year, around 1,700 children were rescued from across railway stations in Delhi, while the figure was close to 2,200 in 2016.